Friday, April 17, 2009

More gardening

So I am finally getting things a little more organized in the outdoor container garden. This weekend I worked on adding an additional, re-purposed piece of furniture as a container for some cucumbers and okra. First let me say that I had almost run out of the fuel to get these plants and this container off the ground and completed. I was inspired by my visit to the Quality Feed and Garden Company store on N. Main St. near the Houston Heights. This feedstore is awesome-- like stepping into the parts of Arkansas my family grew up. They had ducks, chickens, and parrots, and pigeons, and fancy chickens, and feed, and more feed and lots of vegetable plants. So I bought 6 cucumber plants with the help of the owner ("Do you burp after cucumbers? Then you don't need the burpless") and 6 okra plants, and this beautiful purple basil-- mmmm.

After the plants were bought I was committed. So I took this wonderful coffee table/record holder my dad made over 30 years ago. I remember growing up with this coffee table, eating dinner, storing books in it. For several years it held my aquarium- the one where the goldfish committed suicide by jumping out of the tank (all three together- like beached whales) Then for several more years it held a tank full of mice, then when I was 21 my dad got me Dolomite- my White's tree frog. He and I have been together on and off for 10 years. I left him in a 3rd grade classroom when i lived in Wisconsin, but when i moved back to LSU reclaimed him and put his terrarium on this coffee table. Anyway-- I thought I could fix up the table and put Dolomite's new tank on it (pictures of his new home to come), but instead I just decided to re-purpose it. So I sanded, spray-painted, and then stenciled it.

After the box was dry I went to the hardware store and bought some 'straw' lining, lined the bottom and filled 2 cubbies with a slow release potting soil and peat mix and planted my cucumber plants.
Tomorrow I will get more soil, and plant the okra.

Now to chart the growth of the vegetable and wait for the bounty.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring distractions

I had these grand plans to write a blog about the stuff I do-- the food I cook, knitting projects I make, science I find exciting, but in the end I have realized I just don't enjoy being a how-to person or guide-to-_____ person. I just talk about things that are on my mind. Even knowing that nobody is really reading what is on my mind. So maybe this is just an outlet for me. I would love to inspire people, but think I may not be inspiring. I have no original home projects, my recipes are only slightly altered recipes from the original, I don't write original music, my knitting projects are taken from books, magazines, web-sites. So once again I do things half-heartedly. So often I wish I had an amazing passionate drive to do things and leave a mark in this world. I am not sure where I read this or heard this, but apparently humans have a drive to leave a legacy of themselves on this earth. Be it a child, an idea, an art, touching someone's life, etc. What if you don't have this desire to leave a legacy? Does this make you less 'human'?
I don't have this desire very often- I mean it sounds grand, but all and all I just wanna fade away. I don't mean this in a depressing sense, in fact I am so content. I find such beauty in everything around me, that really I would just rather that beauty engulf me and overshadow my existence.

Today I spent all day in my backyard planting plants into containers for my little container garden. I am so amazed by plants- so much more so than I am by mammals. Everything from their reproductive processes, their evolution from sea to land, their diversification to fill and compete in diverse ecological niches. I love that they provide food and/or beauty and that during the spring they burst forth every year like a symphony reaching a crescendo of vibrant greens. I love this about spring. This is what harkens a renewal, not anything humans have ever done, no religion, no industrial creation, but nature itself. So this Easter I think I really understood the meaning of the season-- what happened that humans became so far removed from the natural world that they always think in terms of the afterlife-- what about the amazing life that is lived and breathed on this Earth. The blooming, sprouting, sweet beauty of nature.

I will probably document the progress of my potted plants-- maybe something sweet, delicious and beautiful will come from it. Even if it doesn't it has already provided me great joy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A visit to California

I have always wanted to visit the Californian wine country (along with the Argentinian/ Spanish/French/etc.) so as a little treat to myself for finishing my PhD I decided to make a trip out of it. Matt and I weren't really sure where to start, but I think we did a pretty good job and will probably go back since we have done some trail blazing.
Day #1- Benziger winery
Benziger is a beautiful winery in the hilly valley of a small volcano that was active prior to the 1907 San Fransico earthquake. It is located close to the little quaint town of Glen Ellen and just down he road from the Jack London State Park. All in all a beautiful setting and I would recommend it to anyone. I particularly liked their 2006 Pinot Noir made from grapes grown in the Russian River valley, the 2005 Port, and the 2006 Reserve Chardonnay. I especially liked the winery tour. This winery is a certified biodynamic winery, meaning that it goes beyond organic in the sense that all their practices try to be self-contained and use all aspects of the environment. I especially liked their usage of compost tea (a practice I have been meaning to investigate and learn for myself). This was a great little winery to begin with in the Sonoma Valley.

During our trip our homebase was this cute, hidden away B&B called Beltane Ranch. I loved everything about this place. It had such character and charm and was removed enough from the towns and highway that i felt like I was visiting a less traveled country-side.

The moment we stepped onto the grounds I felt like I was in a peaceful spot. The grounds were beautiful and were abound with olives trees, grape vines, horses, and cows. The ranch immediately gave the feel of a southern antebellum home with it's full wrap around porch and moss covered oak trees. I also loved that it lacked a TV and phone in the room, making it more of a little escape. In addition, the ranch house was ours for the night, being the only guests. This is one place I would love to return to.
That night for dinner, Matt and I went to the Glen Ellen store in town, bought a bottle of wine and dined at The Fig. I had a delicious meal of Spring lamb stew on couscous and Matt had the special which was a duck entree. Everything about this place was nice. I only wished i would have gotten the baked goat cheese- but alas.